Tony Lee And His ‘Thunk Tank’ Coming To Ellis Performing Arts Center On February 23rd

On Thursday, February 23rd, at 6:30 p.m., Tony Lee and his Thunk Tank will come to the Ellis Performing Arts Center for a relaxing evening of music, Jazzy Neo-Soul style. The Latta Schools Educational Foundation is sponsoring this free concert for the public.
Tony Lee, co-founder and owner of Freeway Music in Columbia, grew up in Floyd Dale, South Carolina.
He learned to play drums under the direction of George Liebenrood, while at Latta High School. Upon graduation, Lee went on to continue his education at the University of South Carolina.
For years, his love of music led him to many places while working with some of the most interesting and best musicians around. He formed a jazz group in Columbia that played weekly in a stylish bar, Speakeasy, in Five Points. He eventually took over as leader of the band. Lee’s approach to keeping the experience exciting for the patrons at Speakeasy was to rotate featured guests on a monthly basis.
Lee soon became impressed with Catie (Cat) Galan. She is growing into an exceptional musician. Cat is diminutive, but her voice is anything but small. She also plays violin on a virtuosic level. Precocious and fearless, she made a name for herself around Columbia as a first rate musician.
Skipp Pearson, South Carolina’s original jazz ambassador, who shared the stage with renown musicians “Dizzy” Gillespie, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Dick Goodwin, and countless others, took Tony under his wing and invited him to play a weekly gig at Hunter Gatherer near the State House. It was on this gig that Lee met a young, up-and-coming pianist, Nick Vlandis.
Nick Vlandis , a music major in jazz performance at USC , and Lee hit it off immediately. Vlandis quickly became a first-call pianist for a multitude gigs around Columbia, and has only grown his reputation of indispensability, becoming a respected arranger and music director for several groups.
In one of the university ensembles, Nick was playing with a guitarist that led Lee to meet Kyle Bryant.
With his lumberjack beard and quiet demeanor Kyle Bryant disarms everyone he meets before they hear him play. His prowess on the guitar, an acrobatic display of fearlessness and complete control, alternately comforts and shocks.
Last, but most definitely not least, is Travis Shaw, yet another spectacular example of musicianship and human potential.
Travis is committed to being the open beating heart of any group that is lucky enough to have him. His technical ability means that he can play with anyone, but it’s his empathy and thoughtfulness that set him apart.
Tony concludes, “I absolutely love these four people who make up this group with me. I am proud of them for all they do besides granting me the extreme joy of playing music together. My gratitude knows no bounds, and I cherish all of the opportunities to spend time with them. It is not lost on me that this joy is on display when we perform, so that is certainly a condition that I know others can sense and observe. We all could use more of that type of entertainment in our lives.”
The Latta Schools Educational Foundation would love for you to join us at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 23, at the Ellis Performing Arts Center in Latta for this free evening of Jazzy Neo-Soul music.

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